Ready to learn more about one of the most mysterious fish of the deep?
Skilfish, otherwise known as the Erilepis zonifer, is one of the few members of the Anoplopomatidae fish family. It is found in the rocky depths of the Northern Pacific and is the only species in the Erilepis genus.
One strange thing about skilfish is that people often refer to them as black cod, even though they are not related to codfish in any way. However, some people also refer to them as sable fish.
No matter what you want to call the Erilepis zonifer, let's dive in and learn more about one of the North Pacific's most extraordinary fish.
A Brief Overview of the Skilfish
A Description of the Skilfish
Skilfish have a unique jet-black color and display striking white blotches or bright markings surrounding the body. On the anal fin and dorsal fin, you'll find smaller white spots. However, as the skilfish grows older, its skin will turn from a dark black to a dark grey, and the blotches on the fish's skin will begin to fade.
If we had to compare the skilfish to a more well-known fish, we would say that it lies somewhere between a Sea Bass and a Wreckfish. Very similar to sea bass, you will find a cavernous mouth and large eyes on the skilfish.
The Diet Of A Skilfish
Skilfish are what we like to call "surface feeders" Their jaws are unique in that they are terminally configured, meaning they snap at other bony fishes to feed. Some of the fish that skilfish snap at include Pacific cod, mackerel, pollock, mullets, herring, capelin, eels and other rockfish.
In terms of size, the skilfish can get quite large, some of which grow up to six feet in length and weigh more than 200 pounds. However, on average, most of these black cod will grow around 1.83 meters in length.
Gauging the average range for the genus Erilepis can be pretty tricky, considering that they mostly live in the deep rocky bottoms.
They aren't usually found towards the surface because they aren't really into the light. However, they'll sometimes hang out in tiny crevices in Monterey Bay when the lighting is adjusted nicely.
Unique Skilfish Facts
Can I Fish For Skilfish?
If you've ever caught a skilfish while deep sea fishing, then we salute you.
The act of purposefully catching a skilfish is something many deep-sea fishermen set out to do. However, if you're traveling into open water with the intent of catching these fish, you'll need to be more attentive than usual.
Looking for seagulls is a great way to find skilfish, as seagulls can be found wherever small fish are. When small fish roll around, the skilfish will come out to feed.
You might also consider checking out areas with rocky reefs or deep rocky bottoms. Because this fish has dark colors, you'll most likely find them lurking around the rocky depths, trying to be as elusive as possible.